Preparing for extenuating circumstances in estate planning

Georgia residents might want to include clauses in their estate plan that address the possibility that a beneficiary may die at the same time or shortly after they do. People whose assets are commingled might want to consider a simultaneous death clause. This chooses one person to be considered the one who died first if time of death cannot otherwise be determined. Another tool is the survivorship deferral that addresses the issue of an individual's beneficiary dying shortly after the individual. With this clause in place, the assets would then be distributed as though the beneficiary died first.

People might also want to consider the possibility that all their named beneficiaries may die before they do and indicate a charity or some other organization they would like their estate to go to. Otherwise, the state may distribute assets to distant relatives. Individuals should also take note of assets that pass by beneficiary designation such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts. These should have contingent beneficiaries as well.

Other considerations may include retitling shared property as "tenants in common" and considering how assets will be distributed if a beneficiary who has heirs dies first. Individuals who have relatives with special needs may want to set up a trust.

With considerations such as these, creating an estate plan may go well beyond setting up a simple will even for individuals who have few assets. Taking these additional steps may help ensure that an individual's wishes are carried out even in extenuating circumstances. Working with an attorney to make sure that documents are prepared correctly and that legal terminology is accurate as well as communicating with loved ones may also be important aspects of estate planning.

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